Comparison of Task Managers: Remember the Milk vs. Astrid vs. Wunderlist vs. Todoist

A blog post topic that has been ironically lingering on my To-do list for some time is a comparison of task managers I’ve been using over the years: Remember the Milk (RTM), Astrid, Wunderlist and Todoist. If there’s anything I love doing, it’s making To-do lists and if there’s another thing I really love it’s finding cool apps that help me get stuff done. I’m by no means a GTD-fan, but I do enjoy a good AutoFocus FV session (I’ll write a blog on that technique next) and lists in general. So let’s get started with the list comparison (lol). I’ll summarize my love, feelings of meh and other assorted ramblings for Remember the Milk, Astrid and Wunderlist and Todoist below.

Remember the Milk

Cute RTM cow favicon in action
Cute RTM cow favicon in action

Oh RTM and your little cow favicon (I might have mentioned this before), how I used to love you. This was the first list keeping application I ever used. Back then, I mainly used it for repeating house chores. It has a nice and clean interface and many repeating task options. When I got an Android smartphone, I was excited to get the RTM app so I could check off my tasks anywhere. That’s when I found out that with a free account, you are only allowed to sync once a day! Fine, I thought, I’ll go premium… As it turns out, that’s 25 dollars…. Per year! Oh no they didn’t!

love: e-mail reminders, smart task adding, tags

meh: crazy high subscription fee and severely disfunctional phone apps without it

Astrid

Astrid the squid could not be any cuter!
Astrid the squid could not be any cuter!

Once the most popular task manager on Lifehacker this cute squid once managed all my tasks for me after I left RTM behind. One of the things I enjoyed most about this was not just the standard cool features you come to know and love of many task managers, but the notifications and reminders. In the Android app, the squid personally reminds you what needs to be done and praises you when you complete tasks. All the necessary features were entirely free and I happily used Astrid for tasks at home and at work. Entering a task like ‘Vacuum cleaning after 3 days’ meant that the task would automatically be re-scheduled 3 days after completion. So why am I past-tensing this description? Yahoo bought Astrid and it’s hinted that it will no longer be available in its current form soon.

love: smart task adding, extensive repeating tasks options, squid, reminders, interaction, motivation

meh: Yahoo takeover

Wunderlist

Wunderlist... Yea, uh, cute star you have there?
Wunderlist… Yea, uh, cute star you have there?

When the Astrid news came out, Wunderlist jumped in to rescue the helpless ex-Astrid users. Wunderlist was reborn recently as Wunderlist 2 and is now native on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Web, Android and Windows PC. What it lacks in the cuteness department, it definitely makes up for in functionality. Smart lists (hidden if nothing is there to be shown in them), a smooth and extremely simple and snappy interface that syncs well on both the web and phone and customization options. The Pro accounts offer more functionality for teams and extra background options and aren’t a necessity.

love: sharing, smart lists, simplicity, customization, subtasks, pretty colors, karma,

meh: I have found nothing to meh about so far! update: by now I have. I don’t really like the design and I can’t add tasks that repeat *after* x days instead of *every* x days (there is a difference!)

Todoist

Todoist. Oh the productivity of it all!

So there I was, happily minding my own productivity with Wunderlist, when a certain cpbotha lured me into the beautiful and productive world of Todoist. At first I was a bit scared that I would need to shell out for a premium account to take full advantage of this system, but after some months I’m still perfectly happy with the free version. The advantages over Wunderlist are mainly a nicer design, better task specification (add tasks that repeat *after* x days as well as *every* x days), productivity statistics, a very cool karma graph and pretty colors for different projects.

love: design, color-coded projects, task specification, karma, statistics, daily e-mails

meh: no mehs encountered in my three months with Todoist. 

Conclusion

I started out with RTM many years ago. After finding Astrid I thought I was set for life. I was quite heartbroken when the Yahoo news dropped, but after finding Wunderlist, I didn’t feel too bad about it anymore. I definitely felt that Astrid suited my personal needs best, but Wunderlist was a very close second. When I found out about Todoist, I feel that this is really the best fit for me and I’m not looking back or even thinking about Astrid anymore ;)

Do you use a task manager app? What are your favorites?

27 thoughts on “Comparison of Task Managers: Remember the Milk vs. Astrid vs. Wunderlist vs. Todoist

  1. I’d like to agree with everything alexander.bock stated — Just changed from Astrid to Any.DO, hated it (Any.DO that is), then switched to Wunderlist from there. My biggest “meh” moment is its infernal syncing, and the HTML5 app occasionally having super-wonky results in Chrome.

    Wunderlist HATES syncing — the other day its server decided to take a nosedive after I’d created a lot of items, and the only offered response was “well log out and log back in.”
    http://support.wunderlist.com/customer/portal/questions/1206114-my-lists-are-not-synching-between-devices

    Regarding sync, today it kept marking the same item as Done every couple seconds, even with zero user intervention. Often things just won’t sync in the mobile app unless I force them, and they might take several minutes in the web one (no force sync button there). This is much longer than the prescribed “couple second” wait.

  2. How could I have missed this post? I too have a list fetish…

    After closing down the company that was supposed to popularize the time management idea that was going to improve the world (or at the very least my mom’s) but didn’t due to lack of time (err), I spent a miserable few weeks using a Trello board called ToDo. That’s like the time management connoisseur equivalent of lying in the gutter with a cheap bottle of wine in a brown paper bag.

    I digress.

    Recently I had a look at my old RtM account, but the UI is still far too busy. Then I dusted off my old todoist account…

    It grew up while I was away, and is now a beautiful young task *styling* system , with pretty and native mobile apps for your favourite systems. Best of all, they draw you pretty graphs, and give you karma points when you complete tasks.

    I know this is a thing in your rating system, but before you could say “wayfarers”, I plonked down the $29 (that’s like € 5, or half a frappé at the coffee shop where I style work) for a year of hipster task-management heaven.

    Ok I have to go now. First I’m going to add a task that I should leave a comment on this blog post so I can check it off and get the karma points.

    :)

    1. I’m sorry the world-improving didn’t work out in the end with that company, but I’m sure your current company will finish that job :)

      Ohhh just as I have settled in with Wunderlist, getting all comfortable and cosy with the benefits of a longer-term relationship with a task management system, you come along to tempt me with me with a fresh and exciting new (to me) young and pretty option… So tempted to go for it! Graphs and karma points… And colors! Not to mention the excitement of trying out a new system!

      Ok, looking at the pricing and features, I noticed that the graphs are in the paid version only, which is unfortunately something I really can’t afford right now. Hmmm, but maybe just a free account to see what it’s like…

      Thank you for this ^^ I’ll be dreaming of todoist tonight :)

  3. There are three points I would like to mention, absolutely respecting your preference for an economically viable system:

    1. This is probably the most important: Relative to the value of your time, monetary and otherwise, $29 towards a probable efficiency boost is insignificant, especially when amortized over the year.

    2. todoist gives you a month to try premium out. If it doesn’t work for you, you get your money back. At least that’s what it says on the box.

    3. GRAPHS, NO, KARMA GRAPHS!

    1. Enjoying a free account at the moment :) I will use it for a month and update the post. It really looks great so far and I like the karma points a lot!

        1. Hi Stephan,

          I’m still thoroughly enjoying a free todoist account :) There are not that many advantages over Wunderlist, but enough for me to switch. I will update this post soon ^^

          Noeska

          1. Hello,
            Do you still use Todoist?
            Do you find it better than Wunderlist?
            Recently I tried Wunderlist and while it seems quite ok – some things are just missing (like Android search option). Also tagging works really nice on PC but is also missing from Android version.

            Martin

          2. Hi Martin,

            Still on Todoist the free edition and very much enjoy it. I just find it a bit prettier and easy to use than Wunderlist. I’ll update this post soon (I keep saying that don’t I ;)) In any ase, I just checked for you and the android app does feature a search option. I’d recommend giving it a try ^^

            Noeska

  4. Hi
    Thanks for the quick run down on the apps.
    I’ve been looking for a good to do list for a while, and like you I had settled nicely on Astrid.
    Those were the days, as I too changed to Wunderlist, and ran in to the same problem.
    (I want to get my hair cut a month after I actually did it, not a month after I was Supposed to have done it).
    Just found Todoist today, and just love at first sight. But lo, what do I behold, there is no way to share lists. I have a lot of those: vacuum the floor, wash the oven – stuff, that I share with my girlifriend. Plus longer term stuff like places we want to see, small projects in the house. But Todoist is only personal (although they are working on changing this, apparently)

    But there just doesn’t seem to be an app/task manager that does it all.
    (and noooooo, 1 sync a day is definetly out)

    1. Hi Kenneth,
      Thank you for your comment! I don’t share my lists because I’m selfish like that (and my bf is allergic to task managing software anyway ;))

      It’s always something isn’t it… It seems you can’t have it all even in task manager software ;) Would a temporary fix be to just share your account with her?

    2. Hi Kenneth,

      Just wanted to let you know that Todoist recently had an update that includes sharing! Hope this makes you happy :) I tried sharing my home cleaning list with my bf, but he was less than thrilled, hahaha.

  5. Hello, I liked Todoist yet I’m a big fan of RTM. I have some points and sorry for a mess in writing them.

    The only thing I hate about Todoist is it’s still growing. That’s, I’m facing a lot of troubles there every now and then. they fix them at the end of course. Repeating tasks if ticked (completed) by mistake are very hard to be un-done…

    RTM is more mature but they are not caring of users needs there. That’s, UI, sub tasks, individual task reminders.

    On phone (Android specifically) RTM has a very nice UI but on Web, Todoist is the winner. The HTML5 used in Todoist is a little bet scary on web: if you haven’t noticed it’s offline, you might loose your updates.

    I trust RTM more for serious work but I like Todoist more…

    On the other hand, Wunderlist in my point of view has the worst design. And repeating tasks are not that mature (advanced) in comparing to Todoist and/or Remember the Milk. I haven’t got a chance to try Astrid…

    1. Hi Mohamad,

      Yea, Todoist might still be groing, but I haven’t run into any problems so far fortunately. I recently got the Premium version while it was on sale and am now even more of a happy camper with it :)

      You’re right about Wunderlist, it looks horrid. Especially that wood-type thing they have going on…

  6. Hello! Nice post! I’m on todoist (free version) and it seems to work fine for me.
    The only problem I have is that you can’t add task while offline (lots of time to spare on the train while commuting…), does anyone know if this is possible on any task manager at all? Thanks!

      1. Just installed Wunderlist’s Chrome App, which has offline mode. Can be launched directly from the dash in ubuntu, so it looks as if it fits all my needs… plus I found the firefox add-on a must have!
        I’ll try it for a bit before closing my todoist account ;-)

  7. Looks like Todoist doesn’t support Labels at the free level, which makes it unsuitable for people who use the Getting Things Done (GTD) or similar task management approaches.

    1. No, it does support labels in the free version. In the premium you get pretty colors for them though ;) But you could also use projects and sub-projects for GTD if you don’t like color-less labels :)

  8. Thanks for the reviews! There is also Beesy which is pretty powerful. It’s all-in-one so you don’t have to switch between multiple apps which can be very distracting. It suits well for managers handling a lot of meetings thanks to its dynamic note-taking feature that enables real time-savings!

  9. Ms. Smit, thanks for the thorough task app rundown. I’m curious as to how you use AutoFocus FV with Todoist. I’ve been having great success with AFFV and have been looking to implement it with an electronic version.

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